The Santiago Times reports "Luxury Cruise Ship Suffers Accident In Antarctic Peninsula."
The newspaper in Chile reports that the 100 passenger cruise ship Clelia II has been withdrawn from service following an accident that occurred over Christmas week.
The tour operator waited a long time before announcing the incident.
In a statement released two weeks after the near disaster, the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators said that on December 26 the Clelia II arrived at Petermann Island, Penola Strait in the Antarctica Peninsula for a passenger landing when what is characterized as "a stronger-than-anticipated current pushed it toward the rocky shoreline."
Whether this is true is unknown - this is the trade organization's spin.
It took one and one-half hours before the Clelia II's sister ship, the Corinthian II, arrived and attached a stern line to rescue the Clelia II. If the incident was more serious, the passengers would be in quite a pickle.
The cruise line PR statement claims that "at no time during this incident was there a threat to human life; passengers and crew were never in danger."
Does this statement comfort you?
It scares the hell out of me.
I remember when the Explorer had a similar incident in Antarctica. The Explorer scraped its hull. The cruise line's PR people also claimed that everything was OK. But when the photographs (shown here) emerged from the incident showing the stricken cruise ship belly up in the ice in Antarctica with the passengers huddled in lifeboat terrorized, I realized that cruising in Antarctica was not your typical Caribbean vacation. And the cruise line PR people could not be trusted.
Numerous news sources subsequently pointed to the negligence of the captain, faulty equipment, failed inspections, a compromised hull - as well as negligent emergency protocols - as nearly causing a mini-Titanic disaster.
Trust me, PR statements by cruise lines are inherently self-serving and must be taken with a grain of salt - or a stiff scotch!
The good news here sounds like a lucky break for the passenger sand crew aboard the Clelia II.
It will be interesting to read the official investigation reports and determine whether there was really a threat to the passengers and crew on yet another disabled cruise ship in the freezing Antarctic waters.
December 8, 2010 Update:
The Clelia II is in trouble again - The Clelia II Skirts Disaster Again in Antarctica
Photographs Associated Press (AP)